Greenberg Junior Faculty Research Grant Winners Announced

April 20, 2022
Submitted By: Ann Brown

Greenberg Junior Faculty Research Grant Winners Announced

Faculty members Song Wang (Department of Civil Engineering, College of Engineering, Technology and Architecture), Billie Lee (Department of Painting and Drawing, Hartford Art School), Dakota Nanton (Department of Cinema, College of Arts & Sciences), Sheikh Rabiul Islam (Department of Computing Sciences, College of Arts & Sciences), and Shirley Wang (Department of Management, Marketing and Entrepreneurship, Barney School of Business) have been awarded Greenberg Junior Faculty Development Grants for AY2022-23.

Dakota Nanton, Assistant Professor of Cinema in the College of Arts & Sciences, will use grant funding to travel to Germany to produce a short film, Last Days in Berlin, which will use the history of the city of Berlin as a lens to explore personal and family histories, and intersectional identities, through a mix of documentary, animation, and narrative techniques. This project will explore the Jewish diaspora and questions of collective trauma through the history of Berlin, from a city with a once-thriving Jewish community to a city which is scarred by traces its past. This ambitious international production will hone Professor Nanton’s previous success in international documentary production to create a film which will be shown at film festivals around the country and will seek to educate and inform audiences about the power of film to reclaim lost histories and stories which would otherwise be lost to time. Grant funds will be used for two course releases, travel and materials.

Shirley Wang, Assistant Professor in the Department of Management, Marketing and Entrepreneurship in the Barney School for Business, will use her grant funding to expand a research stream that examines the effects of top management teams’ temporal focus on their firm’s resilience. The desired outcome of her project, “Resilience in Management Teams,” is to publish at least 1 peer-reviewed article in an A level journal (according to ABDC List). This project is a continuation of Dr. Wang’s ongoing work and entails learning a new research method, purchasing software, conducting data analysis on already collected data, collecting new data, and writing a manuscript. Grant funds will be used for two course releases in AY 22-23, a data worker and the purchase of software.

Sheikh Rabiul Islam, Assistant Professor in the Department of Computing Sciences in the College of Arts & Sciences, will develop methods to minimize bias and discrimination inherent in Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based automated decision-making systems (e.g., predictive policing system), while providing understanding in resulting decisions (i.e., explainable decisions). In particular, the proposed project will develop methods that (1) elicit unknown bias, explainable discrimination, and effective domain knowledge, and (2) mitigate the aforementioned fairness concerns associated with data and algorithms by incorporating external knowledge (i.e., domain knowledge), and enhancing trust using explainable AI (XAI). Dr. Islam will empirically evaluate the ability of the developed methods to facilitate explainable and balanced fairness considering different fairness criteria in predictive policing and integrate the research findings and contemporary research on Fair Machine Learning (ML) and XAI as an interactive module into existing AI and ML courses to further the research and knowledge exploration by undergraduate students. Successful implementation of this project, “Advancing Fairness in Predictive Policing Using Domain Knowledge,” will act as preliminary work to apply for external grants from agencies like National Science Foundation. Grant funds will be used for two course releases in AY22-23 and a student worker.

Billie Lee, Assistant Professor of Painting and Drawing in the Hartford Art School, will work on two journal articles that examine issues of social equity and inclusion in the field of art and design under the heading of “Art, Pedagogy, and Social Change.” The articles engage questions central to Professor Lee’s research at the intersection of art, pedagogy, and social change, including, how does the field of art and design both challenge and uphold systems of inequality? In what ways are artists cultivating art and pedagogical practices to create and imagine a more inclusive art and design field? What role does collaboration play in the forging of solidarity and alternative possibilities? And more broadly, how can art and art curriculum more closely reflect the radically shifting social world in the 21st century? Her proposed articles will examine a distinct set of case studies, theories, and examples to deepen an understanding of these dynamics, centering the voices and experiences of artists, students, and faculty of color and from other historically marginalized backgrounds who have navigated historically white art institutions. Grant funds will be used for a course release in Fall 2022 and participation in an online academic writing community and writing retreat.

Song Wang, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering in the College of Engineering, Technology and Architecture, will research “Sustainability and Durability of Epoxy Adhesive Subjected to Severe Environmental Conditions.” In recent years, all levels of government have increased investment in bridge repairs, and fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) has been widely used to fulfill the repairment work. Numerous studies have been done to investigate the short-term mechanical behavior of FRP repaired concrete members, and the results are promising. However, the research on long-term durability performance of the system subjected to harsh environmental conditions is still very limited. Dr. Wang will investigate issues in the debonding failure of the adhesive which binds the concrete and the FRP together to discover the environmental condition(s) that most significantly affect the durability properties of the adhesives, and provide appropriate modifications to the adhesive, such as chemical admixtures or coating, to reduce the vulnerability of the adhesives to those severe environmental conditions. Grant funds will be used for equipment, supplies, conference attendance, and student research assistants.

The Greenberg Junior Faculty Grants are internal grant awards intended to promote high-quality scholarship by faculty members who are just beginning their careers. These grants are made possible by a generous gift from Arnold and Beverly Greenberg.